Thursday, December 3, 2009

Power Lunch

Barack Obama gave his speech on Afghanistan, in case you haven't heard. If you didn't articulate immediately a strong and reasoned position about the merits of the Obama Administration strategy, don't be too hard on yourself. You weren't invited to the lunch either.

Thomas L. Friedman, the New York Times columnist and Pulitzer Prize-winning author, has an amazingly vivid and coherent opinion on the subject. He does not agree with President Obama's decision to escalate in Afghanistan. He said so yesterday. This is sort of interesting, and can be heaped in the pile of all the other opinions out there. Along with the columnists are the pundits, candidates, generals and radio jocks all arguing over whether the President is right or wrong. The speech is a big meaty bone they will gnaw on for our benefit and their paycheck until the next speech.

What is interesting in yesterday's Friedman article is the reference to a sneak preview he and others got to the Afghanistan speech. "At a lunch on Tuesday for opinion writers, the president lucidly argued that opting for a surge now to help Afghans rebuild their army and state into something decent - to win the allegiance of the Afghan people - offered the only hope of creating an "inflection point," a game changer, to bring long-term stability to that region."

What lunch? Who are these opinion writers? Was Fox News invited? Did President Obama smoke a cigarette with his coffee? Did the Salahis show up?

My gut says there is no precise right or wrong answer when it comes to fighting terrorists. There is no play book. To the people who are aghast that "never before" has our commander in chief put parameters around a commitment of American blood and money, I say get over it. Storming the beach at Normandy isn't an option.

I liked when President Obama said:

We must rebuild our strength here at home. Our prosperity provides a foundation for our power. It pays for our military. It underwrites our diplomacy. It taps the potential of our people and allows investment in new industry. And it will allow us to compete in this century as successfully as we did in the last. That is why our troop commitment in Afghanistan cannot be open-ended — because the nation that I am most interested in building is our own.

Then again, I just had a tuna sandwich alone at my desk.

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